Students who want to buy individual songs online instead of
downloading them illegally can now access songs from the same
store, no matter what type of computer they use.

Apple launched a new version of its online iTunes Music Store on
Thursday that allows both PC and Macintosh users to download songs
for 99 cents each and store them on their iPods. The older version
of iTunes was only compatible with Macs.

Apple also announced a new partnership with America Online that
will soon give AOL members easy access to the iTunes store, a
company press release states.

“Apple and AOL are making it easy for AOL’s 25 million U.S.
members to legally buy music online,” Apple Chief Executive Officer
Steve Jobs said in a written statement. “With just one click, AOL
members will be able to legally preview, purchase and download
music from the iTunes Music Store’s catalog of more than 400,000
songs.”

AOL CEO Jonathan Miller added in the statement that Apple and
AOL are uniting “to bring customers the most complete online
digital music experience.”

Despite the potential benefits of the alliance, Apple will now
have to compete with online companies such as Rhapsody Digital
Music Service and BuyMusic.com to sell songs to people using
Windows-based computers.

But tracks from the other online companies currently can be
downloaded only by PCs, said Eric Ball, a senior sales
representative at Ann Arbor’s Best Buy store.

More than 13 million songs have been purchased from iTunes in
the store’s first six months, according to the Apple news release.
But many college students continue to illegally download free songs
using Kazaa and other file-sharing services, despite a recent
crackdown by the Recording Industry Association of America on such
sites.

The quality of songs purchased from online stores is higher than
that of files downloaded illegally, and there is no risk that the
files are infected by viruses, Ball said.

While a number of users will buy songs from stores such as
iTunes, the services will not significantly impact the music
industry if the competition forces record labels to lower the
prices of CDs, he said.

But students buying songs from stores like iTunes can still
create their own mixes as if they were downloading songs for free,
LSA junior Chelsea Homan said.

“You’re paying the same price, but you’re still making your own
CDs,” she said.

She added that she is concerned by the string of lawsuits
regarding illegal downloads and would use iTunes if it were the
only way to access music online.

Engineering senior Edward Baskerville, who interned with Apple
last year, said he believes most college students continue to
download songs for free because many illegal sites still exist and
software can be bought to protect the profile of users who download
illegally.

But eventually, students will switch to buying songs from stores
like iTunes, Baskerville said. He added that online stores will
grow in popularity because of their convenience, and not because
students fear being sued by the RIAA.

“This technology is going to make a huge change” in how students
access music, he said.

LSA freshman Elizabeth Hunt, who owns an iPod and has downloaded
several songs from iTunes, said the music store is well organized
and easy to browse for songs. Files can also be downloaded from
iTunes faster than from Kazaa, she said.

“Once you have an account set up, it’s really easy to download
songs,” she said.

Hunt said many of her friends have purchased songs from iTunes
because of the store’s convenience. She predicted that students
with Windows-based computers would buy songs from iTunes “if they
got familiar with the program and saw how easy it is to use.”

Baskerville said that a primary objection to iTunes is that even
though the store can be accessed from all computers, the songs can
only be stored and played on iPods. Other MP3 players, such as
those manufactured by Rio or MPIO, are compatible with both Macs
and PCs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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